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Stage Spot

If battlefield promotions were handed out on intimate stages, Tracy Merrifield would have returned with stars on her shoulders after a particularly mishap-riddled outing of the show she currently appears in, Long Beach Confidential. "Any time you can have a controlled space, it's better," says Merrifield rather deliberately, primarily because that's exactly what she didn't have when the Genesis Theatre Company's initial performing space on the Queen Mary was flooded, and the production was moved to a lobby in the museum area. "We're thinking, oh, Saturday night, how many people are walking around the museum on Saturday night? You saw. Plenty." To add the final touch of farce, there was a door to an elevator lobby in the middle of the set. "We knew that the door was there. I guess we didn't know that it was going to open and everyone and his brother was going to come out. It was ridiculous." The cast negotiated that "delicate balance of anger—of, how could this be happening, and let's just throw the towel in and say, 'Folks, grab a bottle of champagne, goodnight'—and just finding it hysterical." Merrifield went on to sail through the evening with aplomb. "Over here, Wexler," she merrily chirped, when a surprised waiter popped onto the set. Lost partygoers were treated with the respect due sudden dress extras. "I didn't want to ask that what else could go wrong, because I didn't want to know." And that's when the corpse began to cough. "Be careful of that body," she sagely advised in her British maid persona, "it's still spasming." Alcohol and self-destructive thoughts ensued, sending Merrifield to life's one constant comfort: "I called my Mom the next morning, trying to explain this whole door thing, and people walking in and going, 'Ah! I'm onstage!' And she couldn't stop laughing. She's my Mom, but she couldn't stop laughing." She feels better now, though. "We're all doing this because we love to do it, and you might as well have fun. That's really the bottom line. And," she adds, trying to find one last upside, "no one was being hurt."

—Wenzel Jones

"Long Beach Confidential" continues at the Queen Mary Story Theatre, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach. Sat. 7:30 p.m. Indefinite. $47. (562) 981-1916.

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